English. Last Quarter of the Eighteenth Century.


Height: 39"(99 cm); Width: 30" (76 cm).

Of giltwood. The original circular convex mirror plate within a molded frame is surrounded by a garland of laurel leaves. The top crested by a vase raised on a podium from which issues an arrangement of harebell swags. The outcurved support to the base rests on a continuous cavetto moulded bar centered by an inverted fan motif to the underside from which bullrush sprigs emerge. Old restoration to gilding. 

This delicately conceived mirror is a rare example of a convex plate combined with an Adamesque frame, which predates the more prolific Regency examples whose form is frequently that of a cavetto molded frame, surmounted with an eagle resting on a podium of rockwork.

One of the earliest and best-known depictions of a convex mirror occurs in the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait by Jan Van Eyck in 1434 (National Gallery, London). To make a convex plate at this early date probably involved use of the blown method, an extremely skilled and costly process that made such pieces the preserve of the very wealthy.  It is interesting to note that in the highly symbolic Arnolfini portrait the mirror is thought to represent the Eye of God watching over the newly married couple.

It was not until the latter part of the eighteenth century that such mirror plates could be made in a mold. This more efficient, less costly approach promoted a great fashion for this type of mirror in England during the Regency in the first decades of the nineteenth century. The present piece is a rare example of such a mirror predating this vogue. 

Full research report available on request.